In which the blog takes a mysterious turn on how to hack the Russian educational system and save money by baking cookies.
Ok, here’s the deal. Russians love holidays. And they have lots of them. By lots of them, I mean more than the Americans, but perhaps less than Italians or Greeks.
And with each holiday you will need to be ready to present gifts to those whom the holiday has been proclaimed in honor of. For example, if it’s Tatyana Day, be ready to bring a box of chocolates to your local Tatyana(s). If it’s Border Patrol Worker Day, be ready to present your congratulations to those who protect our great nation’s sovereignty from suspicious elements. And so on. And so forth.
There are also certain holidays where it is good and pleasing to express your gratitude to your children’s pedagogues. It might feel weird because, in your native land, bringing an apple to your teacher on September 1st, feels a bit Home On The Prairie-ish. But get over the feelings of weirdness. Because in Russia, no one will openly comment on your lack of gifts, but your American thriftiness, how shall I say this, will not be admired by the faculty in question. And you want your kids to be safe when they’re at school, right?
In my situation, due to
my Amish roots the love that my wife and I share, we have four children. As it turns out, each and every one of our joyous offspring requires an education. Also, we live in Russia, and they have teachers.
Our children have a total of roughly 15 faculty that are responsible for them (don’t forget the school security guard and the piano accompanist!).
For sure, there are holidays in which you should bring each of these teachers a gift. And by gift, I mean a bouquet of flowers for 1500 rubles. These holidays include September 1st and New Year’s. However, there are other holidays such as Teacher’s Day and Birthdays That Teachers Have.
Part of the problem is that sometimes we didn’t bring gifts when there was a holiday. Grimace. And the other problem is when we did bring gifts when there wasn’t a holiday. Laugh out loud. Awkward.
But it’s always best to just bring gifts. Even when it’s awkward.
Now I am never one to be thrifty when it comes to my children’s education. It is, after all, their future. I always vote in favor of the local school’s levy and so on. Just kidding. I don’t vote, but if I did, I would vote against the levy, because I remember when in 1994 the teachers at Woodridge High School pretended not to have any money and even used cheap chalk to drive the point home. And we didn’t do any science experiments. Now property taxes in Ward 8 of Cuyahoga Falls are out of control.
So, I moved to Russia where property taxes are ZERO for me because I am a permanent resident of Russia with four kids.
But we do need to show our teachers here appreciation as well. So, with 15 total faculty members among my four children, and let’s say 3 Giftable Holidays per year with 1500 rubles for a bouquet of flowers, the total annual appreciation bill comes to 67,500 rubles. For those who neither had the foresight to bring a calculator to this blog reading nor dabble in forex, that comes to roughly $1200 in flowers for teachers of my children annually.
Which is why there are so many flower shops in Russia. Seriously. They’re everywhere.
But my wife is a wise woman. Also, her mother’s side of the family has a thrifty Dutch heritage. If you know what I mean. And my wife made a few apt observations. These included:
- If everyone is bringing flowers (to teachers), then their value is lost (to teachers).
- A few flowers are beautiful. Many flowers are also beautiful, but can’t all even possibly be taken home by one teacher (imagine 50+ bouquets).
- We sincerely love and value our children’s teachers. At the same time, 67,500 rubles seems like a lot.
- If we were to be different, we could save money AND please the teachers.
So, we bake cookies. That’s what we do. American cookies. And we bake nice cookies, not the easy cheap recipe. And by “we bake cookies” I actually mean “my wife bakes cookies”.
And the teachers are pleased by the American baked cookies (and perhaps also by just a few less flowers to handle). And I’m pleased about the estimated 70% savings. And my wife? Well, she bakes. And she probably enjoys that. I will ask her when I’m done writing this blog if she enjoys baking cookies.
So, we all win. The teachers get cookies. My wife bakes. I save money and write you a blog so that you save money.
Maybe since my wife bakes I should buy her flowers. But this would mean a bit less savings. And what if I start to buy her too many flowers? So many flowers that the flowers I buy her lose their value?
I mean if I bought my wife 67,500 rubles in flowers, she would probably ask me to bake cookies next time. But then she will probably just take them to the kids’ teachers. The cookies I mean.
Do you have kids in a school in Russia? You need to be classy and bring your teachers presents. If you have one child who has one teacher then I salute your simple and perfect existence. By all means, go and buy a bouquet of flowers a few times a year.
However, if you’re like me. And by “like me” I mean you don’t know when to say “when”, then you should bake cookies. Or you can buy some coffee or special tea while on vacation. Or crochet some mittens and scarves. I heard that some other kids at the school are getting creative and doing that.
But if I was your child’s teacher, I would just go for the cookies.